3 Ways Seniors Can Protect Their Health

Health is important at every age. Make sure you are paying attention to these 3 areas of your health. In addition to things like heart disease, cancer, and other diseases make sure you pay attention to your dental, vision, and getting enough physical exercise to stay as healthy as possible through the lifespan.

Guest Post: By Jason Lewis from www.StrongWell.org

Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in people over 65, and quality of life and quality of care play a big part in how these serious medical concerns will impact you. That’s why seniors who want to live their healthiest life in their golden years need to understand the power —  and the limitations — of their healthcare plan. 

For example, Traditional Medicare won’t cover vision, dental and prescription medications, and it’s coverage of in-home care is limited. That’s why many seniors enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Provided by private health insurance companies, Medicare Advantage gives seniors peace of mind with more comprehensive coverage. For example, these plans offer coverage for vision, dental, wellness programs, prescription drugs and fitness centers.  Let’s take a closer look at how this healthcare coverage can address common concerns for people 65 and older.

Dental Health Over 65

Doctors provide compelling evidence that links dental health to a plethora of other health concerns, from depression to heart disease. These rates and risks spike substantially for seniors, which is why many add this coverage to their traditional Medicare plan. For example, some medications have negative side effects for oral health, like dry mouth and even cavities. Gum disease is also a major concern for older adults. Since many people don’t feel pain or discomfort until gum disease is in its advanced stages, many seniors don’t realize they have it. The dental coverage in Medicare Advantage plans vary from annual cleanings to more comprehensive treatments, including reducing out-of-pocket expenses associated with partial and full dentures. If it’s been over a year since your last cleaning, you should find a dentist and schedule a checkup. 

Seniors and Vision Health

Eyesight is a common concern for seniors, as there are certain kinds of vision diseases and disorders that happen due to age. It’s natural for our vision to change as we age, so it’s natural for seniors to need vision care even though they may have spent the majority of their lives with healthy eyesight. Some common age-related vision conditions include presbyopia (difficulty focusing), cataracts (clouding of the lens), glaucoma (build up of fluid) and macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in seniors). Medicare Advantage plans give seniors an opportunity to maintain their eye health and see specialists when something feels off, without having to worry about covering the full cost of an expensive procedure.

Fitness for Seniors

Physical activity is one of the leading ways seniors can positively impact their physical and mental health. And, the good news is, it’s never too late to start. If you have lived a relatively sedentary life, you may think that working out now won’t help much. But it’s time to think again. Exercise now can not only prevent major illness and injury, but in some cases it can even undo some of the damage caused in your younger years. There have been many documented cases of seniors being able to reverse their type 2 diabetes diagnosis just through diet and exercise. With Medicare Advantage plans, many seniors get access to Silver Sneakers programs, which are special fitness classes aimed at people 65 and over. You can also get free memberships to thousands of gyms and fitness centers across the country.

Medicare is so complex; it’s no wonder some seniors shy away from understanding it. Grateful even for basic coverage, they sign up for it but their interest stops there. And it’s not surprising — Medicare is confusing, complicated and challenging. But if you want to be in control of your physical and mental well-being, knowing what is (and isn’t covered) is exactly where you need to start. Knowing the gaps in your coverage can help you decide if you need more help. 

Understanding all the ways we communicate. We are just chemical, electrical, and vibrational little beings

In my undergraduate studies there was a moment in time when I was a communication major. In the end I graduated with a bachelor of science in exercise science and a minor in business and communication studies. You are probably pretty familiar with the “regular” ways we communicate i.e. talking and body posture. Did you know that communication is mostly non-verbal? And that we as mammals can understand and pick up subtle nuances based on somatic markers? These somatic markers are based on the chemical, electrical, and vibrational communication patterns our cells and atoms use to communicate to each other.

It all starts with slime mold (see video below, it’s old but good). This is the stuff all living things are made of. From single celled organism, life evolved to have specialized cells. Bring together enough specialized cellular structures and you have … a human. To make the human system work, you have to have communication between all those specialized groups. This communication is done using chemical, electrical, and vibrational patterns. 

Human Chemistry 

Chemical is probably the easiest to conceptualize. Most of us in the therapy field have a basic understanding of how neurotransmitters and hormones play a role in mental and physical health. Most of us know that dopamine is connected to pleasure, serotonin to depression and contentment, and GABA to anxiety states. Many of us understand that estrogen and testosterone play a role in our ability to connect and assert ourselves. Lots of us understand that many of these shift and change based on the environment. 

Diet plays a huge role here. The body is an amazing system that can make what it needs and recycle or eliminate what it doesn’t. We use food, the sun, and nature to help us develop and synthesize the neurotransmitters we need from the nutrients, vitamins, and phytochemicals we are exposed to. Biology also plays a huge role here. We often consider genes of ancestry to understand our physical structure functions. 

Overall, chemical communication is fairly slow. The hormones and neurotransmitters have to get into the blood stream, enter the synapsis, hook up with other chemicals, and “dock” for uptake to keep the system going (Fields & Stevens-Graham, 2002). This is a lot of steps. The endocrine system and nervous systems use chemical patterns and electrical signaling to communicate between specialized cells.

Understanding electricity

Electrical patterns are faster and extend out beyond the physical system (Brian & Lamb, 2014). As a result, this kind of communication can be “read” by other electrical systems. When you have one electrical system next to another and they share the same frequency they create a larger field around the electrical objects. The heart works on electrical signals and is the “battery” of the human body. As your heart rate changes, it impacts the field around you. If you are in connection with another mammal and your electrical fields are similar, you will create deeper connection by collapsing the wall between you and create a larger field that both are part of (Tozz, 2014). Ever sat at the coffee shop and watched people connecting in conversation? Those who are deeply connected appear to “be in their own bubble” or we get the feeling that they are oblivious to the outside world. Maybe you’ve even had this experience yourself. 

Let’s talk about heart rate variability. If you can influence your heart rate (electricity) and shift your nervous system (chemistry) and your electrical pattern moves beyond your physical body you are now influencing others near you. As the clinician you can work to regulate your clients by slowing your breath rate, shifting your heart rate, and calming your nervous system. Just like a parent does a child. Your most important therapy tool … your body. If you are working to calm yourself or others, work to slow your breathing and shift your heart rate to a slower signal. POST HRV Email on my therapist blog site.

Vibrational Waves

Humans, like all things, are made of molecular structure. Molecular structure is made of atoms. Atoms are tiny parts of matter that vibrate. Is high school physics coming back to you? When things vibrate they send out ripples. In humans these ripples extend beyond the physical structure. Just like water ripples out from the point of the dropped stone. As a result we “read” each other based on our “vibes”. You know the sayings … “that guy has bad vibes” or “I really felt good around her”. When our vibrations are similar we feel better, we “resonate” with the other person. When we do not resonate with the other person we often find ourselves feeling unease or “off”. We influence our vibrational patterns by shifting our focus points and influencing the physical structures around them (Trivedi & Mohan, 2016). Waves, like electricity will enhance or cancel each other based on how they match up when they meet. This is the communication we are experiencing between two human bodies. 

When we talk about these deeper, subconscious ways humans communicate we would be remiss if we did not speak to the need for boundaries. For many of us we have physical boundaries – my chair, my office, clothing, home etc. We also have professional, ethical, and other mental / thought based boundaries around our activities, but have you thought about your energetic ones? Now that you understand how we communicate beyond the physical structure what are the ways you create energetic boundaries for success and safe connection in your life?

Now that you have an understanding of ways we communicate how will you shift your personal practices to make sure you are taking care of your own chemical, electrical, and vibrational communication influencers? What will you do to make sure you are prepared and ready to communicate in these somatic ways that allow a deeper and subconscious connection? How will you boundary yourself to make sure you are taking care of yourself?

Embrace the power of your soma to impact and influence others – both in traditional verbal / non verbal communication tactics, but also with the more subtle and powerful subconscious ways humans communicate in their environments. Give it a try today and let me know how it goes. 

References: 

Fields, R. D., Stevens-Graham, B. (2002). New insights into neuron-gila communication. Science, 298(5593). 556-562

Brian, M., Lamb, R. (2014). How electricity works. How Stuff Works. http://www.presentationexpressions.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Yulchon-Howstuffworks-

Tozz, P. (2014). Does fascia hold memories. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 18, 259e-265. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.11.010  

Trivedi, M. K., & Mohan, T. R. R. (2016). Biofield energy signals, energy transmission and neutrinos. American Journal of Modern Physics. 5(6),172-176. doi: 10.11648/j.ajmp.20160506.12 

5 Ways to Expand Your Curiosity & Create an Interesting Life

Ever wonder why curiosity is so important in a healthy existence? It is because it is the key. It is the key that unlocks the experiences we have while helping us explore them without getting tipped over by them. It tempers us. It allows us to grow, to expand, and to solve problems. It is the piece we often miss and often do not allow ourselves proper accommodations for, yet it is the one piece that makes it all possible. Here are steps you can take to further develop your own curiosity and make it work for you.

Are you one of those people who says “I’m not that curious. It just does not have much value”? Well, think again. You might not be curious in the same way others are curious, however I bet if you looked around your life you would find things that interest you, that make you ask questions about how and why, or that spur you to think about other things. It might just be that you have not harnessed this little mechanism yet. Or maybe you’ve tried to use it and it takes off on you. Therefore you always feel like allowing any in, is a time warp. You might be one of those people, who if you were to slow down enough to allow your mind to wander with its own curiosity you start to feel all those emotions and have those thoughts you have been working really hard to pretend do not exist. That’s a lot of energy expended to keep yourself from feeling discomfort and therefore from engaging in the part of life that gives meaning, purpose, and makes it worth living. 

Curiosity does all those things and here is how. It is the element of your being that when allowed to be present in your daily life will give you options and choices that are on your path. These glimmers of what interests you helps you say yes to the things that are most helpful to your personal growth, that bring your gifts further into the world, that allow you to do work that brings you joy, and find people you resonate with most. It is the item in your perception of the world that helps you discern which direction is your path, and which one might belong to someone else. Thus helping you set better boundaries in your life. 

For many of us curiosity feels like a luxury. It feels like something we do not have time for, and can often feel like we are “doing nothing”. If we, like many in the USA, base our worth on our productivity, this leaves us in quite a conundrum. How can we allow for curiosity to take hold if we are “not being productive” with it. All of us had it at one point, but many of us were shamed, told it was childish, we weren’t creative, or that what we were curious about, was not valuable. This squashed our spirits and we became complacent that curiosity was for those “creative” types or the “inventors” who had something to contribute, but it was not for the masses. This was misguided societal norming. It created a group of people who are bored, do not know how to follow their own inspiration, and as a result often feel unmotivated to do things that could move their life in a direction perfect for them. 

So how do you retrain your curious brain and allow yourself to put more of it to work for you? Here are some ways to help you develop your own level of curiosity and use it to create the inspiration you need to be motivated to accomplish your personal goals. 

  1. Pay attention to colors. Even if you are not an artist, there are so many colors the human eye can see and each of us see them differently. Look around you and find a simple thing to study. Then really look at the colors on it. Is it a flat color? Does it have shades? Where are the different shades? Is there shape to the way the color flows on the object? What is the color like? Have you seen it before? Where? Do you know the name of the color? If not where could you find it? If you do, how do you think it got its name? What is the undertone of the color (yellow, blue, red)? Do you know what that is? If not where could you learn? Do you like the color? Why or why not? How does the color make you feel? If you had your choice what color would you color this object and why?
  2. Look at shapes. Everything in our world has form. See if you can find the shapes of the objects around you. Are they uniform? Odd? Big? Little? How does the shape contour? What does the shape of the object tell you about it (like a smooth round rock may have had a different experience than a sharp jagged one). Does the shape fit into its surroundings? Do you like the shape? Why or why not? How does the shape make you feel?
  3. Find the thing that does not belong. Remember this game as a kid? One of these things is not like the other … look around your environment and see if you can find an object or two that does not seem to fit. Maybe it is the color, shape, placement, etc that just seems to make it stand out and not fit into its surroundings. Why do you think it is there, like it is? Do you like it where it is? What does it add or contribute to? Can you discern its function from its placement? If you were to make up a story about why it is there, what would the story be about? How would you tell it? Would you use a soft voice, a loud one, a caring story, or something mean and evil? Why would you chose those things? There could be a million ways to tell the story.
  4. People watching is one of my favorites! In this one, go somewhere, where there are people and watch them. Just make sure you are not being the creepy one leering at people. Allow yourself some time and space to just watch at first. Notice any judgments that come up with curiosity about your own story and why that judgment serves you right now. Pay attention to themes that may arise from you personal judgments of another. Notice if the judgment you have of the other is also one you use on yourself. I am a storyteller by nature, so I really enjoy getting to tell some stories about the people I watch. I wonder where they are coming from, going, who they are with, why they have that look on their face, what purpose was their clothing choice about today, what are they hoping for, what are they working to achieve, etc. These are not stories to pick apart and put people down, just stories to inspire understanding of humanity and what bodies were built for. We come in so many shapes, sizes, colors, and preferences. It is pretty amazing how diverse we all are, yet so close in genetic makeup. I find that fascinating. 
  5. Another way to build your own curiosity is looking at beautiful things. Find magazines, view points, or places that you find beautiful and then ask yourself, what is it about this particular spot that you find so beautiful? Is it the color? Form? Function? The balance of the items around you? The odd things you find in this space? The people? The smells? Tastes? Things you can touch? Get to know what you find beautiful and why. Then make sure to spend time with your kind of beauty regularly. Is there a way for you to bring this beauty into your daily routine? Maybe through a picture, music, words, things you can touch like similar fabric? Foods you can learn to make so you can experience them more often? 

There are many way to expand our curiosity to make life more magical. Today, work on finding all the places in your life you are still curious. 

Total Body Blast

Get your sweat on with this explosive power based workout.

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

The Workout

Do each set 3 times through with a 1 minute break after each set. Do each exercise in each set for 1 minute, no breaks in between. Set your workout space up so you can easily move quickly through each exercise in the set. On your break shift space/equipment and grab a quick drink of water.

  • Squat with diagonal arm lift
  • Elbows thrusts up diagonally and thrust sharply to the back body with core rotation
  • Super slow squats with toe lifts at the bottom and onto toes at the top. Arms reach to floor at the bottom and lift up over head at the top.
  • Mountain climbers
  • 180s – squat jumps while rotating in air 180 degrees before landing
  • Lateral “walking” pushups
  • 4 – square jumps – jump forward and back into 4 quadrants of a square
  • Bear crawl forward and back
  • Single leg lunge on the right side with kick through back to front
  • Frog jumps
  • Single leg lunge on the left side with kick through back to front
  • Table top plank lift with side plank rotation alternate sides

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!